Physicists from Moscow’s Steklov Institute of Mathematics have come up with a testable theory on how matter behaves inside a black hole.
The researchers’ work, published in the September 2017 issue of the Journal of High Energy Physics, also proposes a theory that would reconcile quantum physics and the theory of general relativity, which describes gravity.
“We used an approach based on the holographic principle [of string theory],” study coauthor Mikhail Khramtsov said, according to the press service of the Russian Science Foundation.
“This approach postulates that a quantum two-dimensional system which exists on the boundary of a special curved 3D space, called the Anti-de Sitter space, can be described by classical gravitational physics,” the researcher noted. “Thus, the three-dimensional space, along with everything that happens inside, plays the role of a hologram, illustrating what happens directly in our physical system,” he added.
Ordinary and supermassive black holes have a gravitational pull so powerful that nothing not traveling above the speed of light can escape them. As a result, the question of what happens beyond the so-called ‘event horizon’ boundary at which it becomes impossible to escape the gravitational pull of a black hole is something that has caused considerable interest and debate among physicists.
Most scientists believe that it is impossible, in principle, to look inside a black hole and study its structure, since it will lead to the death and/or destruction of any matter sucked into it. Nevertheless, black holes’ existence in our universe has given rise to a number of theories regarding their composition.
More recently, scientists have proposed a theory that black holes are two-dimensional objects, a peculiar type of space hologram, where space is compressed in on itself and where an object sucked into a black hole eventually returns to its starting point. The theory was first put forth by US and Dutch physicists Juan Martin Maldacena and Gerard ‘t Hooft.
Some scientists have consequently come to believe that the entire universe is subject to the same principle – i.e. that it is possible that we are living inside a flat, two-dimensional holographic space.
Taking the holographic principle as a jumping off point, Khramtsov and colleagues Marina Tikhanovskaya and Irina Ya. Aref’eva worked to come up with a theory on why the existence of black holes does not violate the laws of thermodynamics. The theory also describes quantum processes responsible for transporting heat, based on the theory of relativity and other classical laws of physics.
According to the scientists’ calculations, a certain likeness to thermodynamic equilibrium like the one in the ‘normal’ universe may indeed be possible inside a black hole. Khramtsov says that it is possible to prove or disprove this theory experimentally by colliding particles cooled to temperatures nearing absolute zero (minus 273.15 degrees Celsius).
When irradiated by a laser, the cooled particles in a magnetic trap should behave in approximately the same way as matter would in a two-dimensional black hole, according to the scientists.
According to Khramtsov, the quark-gluon plasma arising inside the Large Hadron Collider or the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider can be similarly tested when heated up, allowing the same principles to be used to describe its behavior and conduct further studies. The researcher noted that in the near future, he and his colleagues will study whether or not information is lost when matter passes through a black hole’s event horizon.
featured image:Stellar-Mass Black Hole (NASA, Chandra, 02/21/12)